Connection to our pets may be a bigger connection than we think.

Connection to our pets may be a bigger connection than we think.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. Martin Buber

We have a connection to our pets that impacts our lives in deep and powerful ways. Yesterday my husband and I watched in horror as our Cockapoo Lulu had a seizure. My husband recorded it. She’s six years old; she’s had them off and on. She had one in January and now one in February. Where I buy her dog food they tell me one of their clients has his dog on CBD oil and has taken it off anti-seizure drugs.

We haven’t put Lulu on drugs; we haven’t investigated with a vet the cause. It has always seemed to me to be something to do with food. Last night instead of writing I researched seizures in dogs. I went to a site about Cockapoos and seizures, and I found what I think might be some answers.

Number one Cockapoos are prone to seizures. A group in England believes as I do some of it is food-related. They say we should not give our seizure prone dogs poultry. The funny thing is I have her on a Canadian brand of dog food and what she’s been eating the most is Australian Lamb, but last time I bought a bag of chicken and blueberries according to the clerk.

I was holding chicken with blueberries but put it back on the shelf and bought Australian Lamb. I’d been racking my brain for what had changed in her diet. I threw the last of the chicken and blueberries out this morning and fed her Australian Lamb.

Some people believe our pets are mirrors of ourselves, and when they have health problems we should look to our lives to see if they could be reflecting something from us.

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. George Elliot

We can bring other people up or down with our energy. They bring us up or down with theirs. Why would we think it is different from our pets? Our pets may be more sensitive to energy than we are. Lulu gets excited when people are coming over especially my son’s girlfriend. It is like Lulu knows long before his girlfriend is in the driveway that she is on her way. She was with us when we picked Lulu up, and they have a special connection.

Caesar Milan talks about calm-assertive energy and how it affects our dogs. I don’t think I’ve mastered this yet.

Judith Orloff M.D. has a blog post Can Our Pets Absorb Our Illnesses? I cried as I read it about a young woman with a rare type of kidney disease that wanted a baby. She was advised it was too risky, and that pregnancy would make her situation worse. She wanted a baby so badly she risked it. The pregnancy went well, she remained healthy, but her young Golden Retriever was diagnosed with kidney failure. Soon after the birth of her daughter the dog died, as if it held on long enough to see her through.

There are many stories of connections to animals that we don’t understand. We may have a connection to animals we don’t understand, but we understand we have a connection.

Is there a special animal in our life? Do we have a connection to our pets we find hard to explain? Do our health problems and theirs mirror each other? Is this something to think about?

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem. A.A. Milne

Clearly, animals know more than we think and think a great deal more than we know. Irene M. Pepperberg

Animals are born who they are, accept it, and that is that. They live with greater peace than people do. Gregory Maguire

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Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life Paperback – Dec 28 2010

by Judith Orloff (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 331 ratings

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Friends are one of the great joys in life. Are we open to friendship when someone makes an overture of friendship toward us?

Are we open to friendship when someone makes an overture of friendship toward us? Friends are one of the great joys in life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis

Last night we had a fun night of laughter with friends. Getting together with friends is one of the joys in life. My husband’s friends went to school together and have stayed in touch all these years. Any time we get together it is always fun and filled with laughter.

I don’t have that; I left friends and family to move across the country. Earlier this year I connected with my best friend from school. We hadn’t seen each other since the early 1980s. We talked and laughed and I hope to be able to do it again when I go out to see Mom.

On FaceBook I have connected with people from back home. It’s great to reconnect with people but it isn’t the same as having people in our lives who know us, our spouse, and our kids over the years.

Friends are very important to our mental health. There are ways we can keep relationships alive if we are willing to make at least a minimum amount of effort. One of the things we need in our lives is deep friendships.

We may have friends that we do certain things with golf buddies, Toastmaster buddies, book club friends, and work friends. Over time they may develop into well-rounded friendships that stand on their own. Making time for friendships is important.

True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable. David Tyson

We can’t be someone’s everything. The more we expect one person to give us everything we want in life, the more that relationship can’t deliver. When we have friendships we are healthier, happier, more rounded, and grounded.

It may seem to be a lot of work to develop friendships, but the joy we get from friends helps us live our lives with an open heart. Sharing with friends helps us put life in perspective.  Highs and lows are better shared.

I remember reading about someone who had her highest moment on stage as a performer, and the only person she had to share it with later was the taxi driver that drove her to her hotel. How sad is that?

When we have people who can hold our hands when we are sad, laugh with us when life is good, and be there with us through the thick and thin of life, we are blessed.

Friendships don’t just happen, we have to be open to develop, nurture, and sustain them. Are we open to friendship when someone makes a tentative effort to invite us to be more than an acquaintance? Do we call and connect with friends often? Do we let friendships slide because we don’t make enough effort?

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Dale Carnegie

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. Muhammad Ali

If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere. Zig Ziglar

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How to Win Friends and Influence People Paperback – Oct 1 1998

by Dale Carnegie (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 1,044 ratingsAmazon Charts #13 this week

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Loving and forgiveness. Forgiveness sets us free.

Forgiveness sets us free. Loving and forgiveness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It is the loving, not the loved woman who feels loveable. Jessamyn West

Last night I was a judge at a speech contest for Toastmasters. It was a small contest, there were two contest speeches and one test speech. The speeches were fabulous.

One speaker spoke about adopting an orphaned kitten that was raised by a schnauzer. The cat curled up at his and his wife’s feet and played fetch. A second speaker told of his trip from Russia to Italy. He didn’t speak Italian, on the way to his hotel three hours from the airport he got left behind when he went to the bathroom. With no money, passport, or language skills, he stood looking in the direction the bus went, wondering what he was to do.

Two men came out of the coffee shop and asked if he needed help. One of them spoke some English so they could converse. They took him to the Police Station where an officer figured out what hotel he was staying at even though the speaker only knew part of the name. The Police officer put him on a train and asked the porter to tell him when it was his stop. He arrived at the hotel at about the same time as the bus.

The tour guide had set up bus trips but after a few days of hours on a bus both ways he and some other vacationers decided to use the train to go to Rome. He met someone who knew someone with an island he and others spent three days at. It was his most memorable trip and if he hadn’t had to take the train to the hotel he wouldn’t have realized that the train was the way to see what there was to see. Many people on the trip complained, but he and the group using the train had the trip of their lives.

The third speaker told of his realization he’d had a stroke. He didn’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoke but he had a stroke. He said his fingers were like useless sausages, on his useless sausage hand, attached to his useless sausage arm. Through therapy, washing tables, folding laundry, and a month to relearn to button his shirt he made a full recovery. Enjoy the simple things he tells us.

Listening to speeches is a great joy. We hear stories, real stories, about real people, what they’ve accomplished, overcome, and enjoyed. Stories inspire us and it isn’t the competence of the speaker but the power of the story that touches us.

Last night after I got home it was too late to do anything so I read Men are from Mars Women are from Venus Book of Days by John Gray. November 12 is titled The Power of Forgiveness. He tells us, ”To open our hearts to each other and enjoy a lifetime of love, the most important skill of all is forgiveness. Forgiving your partner for their mistakes allows you to forgive yourself for not being perfect.”

When we don’t forgive in one relationship, our love is to various degrees restricted in all our relationships. We can still love others, but not as much. When a heart is blocked in one relationship, it beats more weakly in them all. When we forgive it means letting go of the hurt. The more we love someone the more we suffer when we don’t forgive them.

The greatest pain we can ever feel is the pain of not being loving to someone we love. John Gray

We may stubbornly hold onto bitterness and resentment, not because we are not a loving person, but because we do not know how to forgive. We need to learn to forgive if we are to enjoy the benefits of being a loving person. If we were not a loving person, ceasing to love someone would not be painful at all. The more loving we are the more painful it is not to forgive.

We often have the mistaken belief that when we forgive someone we are saying it is okay that they did what they did, that we are doing something for them. We forgive for ourselves, so we can go forward. If we can learn that forgiveness is for ourselves, so we can go forward with a light heart, the other person doesn’t even need to know if we forgave them or not.

We are all capable of forgiveness, but it is a skill we need to learn, we must practice forgiveness, and it will take time to master forgiveness as it takes time to master any skill. When we work at forgiving our partner we may think we have mastered it, and then we are blaming them the next day. Maybe we will have to forgive them every day until it becomes a more natural response.

Growth isn’t easy, but it is necessary for our own peace of mind and well being. If we look at it right, forgiveness is in our self -interest not someone else’s. Forgiveness sets us free. If we can become forgiving people we show others how to forgive and go forward lighter, happier, and more loving.

Is forgiveness a skill we need to learn and apply to our lives?

Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness. Forgive them because you deserve peace. Unknown

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[Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Book of Days: Book of Days: 365 Inspirations to Enrich Your Relationships] (By: John Gray) [published: July, 1999] Paperback – Jul 1 1999

by John Gray; (Author) 3.7 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Missing the mark. Living with gratitude and forgiveness for ourselves and others.

Living with gratitude and forgiveness for ourselves and others. Missing the mark.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs

I’ve finished reading The Having The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich by Suh Yoon Lee and Jooyun Hong. In it she tells us one of the problems we have is fixed ideas. We think that certain things are always bad, but many people who succeeded greatly in life and had failures that pushed them to higher success.

I was told I was just like someone I don’t admire.  As I thought about some of the attributes the person has, I thought maybe we do share some of the same attributes. The person is thoughtful, kind, caring, and creative but never built a good life for themselves, never put their own self-interest to the forefront enough. Perhaps they weren’t narcissistic enough, selfish enough, or strong enough to stand up for themselves and those they were responsible for.

Perhaps there, but for the grace of God go I? If we aren’t lucky enough to get strong families who can protect us from people who take advantage of us, perhaps we learn to accept being taken advantage of, perhaps we are even drawn to those types of people? Or maybe the opposite is sometimes true, we decide no one will ever take advantage of us again, so we take advantage first and seek out those we can take advantage of. We decided if the only choice is to take advantage of someone or be taken advantage of by someone we knew which one we’d rather be. That may be why the bullied grow up to be bullies.

When we have a loving, supportive, strong family we take it for granted. We look at others thinking they should be strong, but without a strong foundation where is that strength to come from?

Often something sweet given at a critical time becomes poisonous later, or something typically considered a misfortune gives the person a chance to be reborn. Suh Yoon Lee

In the book, we are told to listen to our intuition, to that still voice within.  Are we being the best person we can be, are our actions aligned with our values? Are we authentic? Are we okay with who we are, are we comfortable in our own skin, are we strong enough to accept what is, and be grateful? Are we willing to find the hidden gifts? Do we realize that there are seasons in our life and we can’t be reaping during planting time? Do we recognize things are too good to be true but go after them anyway?

Are we willing to live with what we need, so we are free to go after what we want? There will be bitter and there will be sweet, no one only gets sweet. Do we appreciate and respect people in our lives, even if they are not perfect? They have their struggles and we have ours.

When we love others, do we love them in a way they understand as love? Do we respect them in ways they understand as respect? Many of the problems in our relationships are caused by our inability to understand each other. In truth, it can be like men and women speak a different language, and what is most important to him, is not what is most important to her.

I was looking at a forum yesterday a young man said his long term girlfriend told him she got a text from an ex-boyfriend saying he achieved his big goal. She congratulated him over a text. The boyfriend looked at her phone and sure enough, he saw the text from the ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend’s congratulatory texts. They went back and forth about ten texts with nothing in it but congratulatory stuff. He broke up with her because it was more than one text. He felt she was lying. Some on the forum told him he did the right thing because anything less than perfection from a girlfriend is not acceptable.

We can’t get perfection from our partners. They will have flaws and they will make mistakes, and they will talk to people or text people we would rather they didn’t talk to or text. If we don’t love people enough to work through the challenges that will crop up in relationships we won’t have relationships. We may expect more from someone than they can give. We may think our lives together should have unfolded differently. Whatever the challenges we have in our life, they are our challenges; we must meet them, overcome them, or live with them.

When we believe the worst of people instead of the best in people. When we think their motives are bad instead of good, do we get more of what we fear? If we are afraid to take chances in life or love because we might fail, be hurt, or look ridiculous, where will this get us? The worst may happen and we need to be strong enough to deal with whatever life throws at us. Sometimes the worst can and does happen. If we are willing to deal with what is, the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, and ride the roller coaster of life, living each day with gratitude we can have a good life. This is our life, enjoy it, savor it, and be willing to give the people in our lives a chance to redeem themselves. Other people are neither their best nor their worst, and neither are we.

Do we need more forgiveness in our lives? Do we need to forgive ourselves and others for missing the mark?

Words are seeds they do more than blow around; they land in our hearts, and not on the ground. Be careful what you plant and be careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day. Unknown

Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand but you don’t. Unknown

Why is it that we can be so quick to judge others and not so quick to take a look at ourselves? 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, forgiveness, and love.

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The Having: The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich Hardcover – Feb 5 2019

by Suh Yoon Lee (Author), Jooyun Hong (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating

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Are we encouragers or discouragers? If we encourage will we be encouraged, if we discourage will we be discouraged? Do we get what we give?

If we encourage will we be encouraged, if we discourage will we be discouraged? Do we get what we give? Are we encouragers or discouragers?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be an encourager the world has enough critics already. Unknown

Six o’clock is very dark these mornings. My husband cautions me about going out for a morning walk. Can I write earlier and walk later? Or will I take the extra time and write longer?

Do we hold people back when we voice our concerns? We may caution them not just about going for walks in the dark, but about decisions they make we second guess. You know it’s really an expensive city you want to move to. The crime rate is high. What if you can’t get a job because you are too young, old, inexperienced, too experiences, too uneducated, too educated, too naive, or trusting?

The worry is not unwarranted, but it also holds people back. People don’t have to move far away to be taken advantage of. It takes a certain degree of boldness to build a life we want. The intersection where boldness and fantasy meet may be where magic or disaster happens. If we are worriers we will see disaster looming, if we are visionaries we may see the potential.

We don’t know where fortune will lead us when we take off with our bundle on our back forward on our hero’s journey. It is our journey and we are full of hope, optimism and ready for adventure. When it is someone else’s journey we may see the dangers, obstacles, and pitfalls ahead of them as they move toward what they want to do, and where they want to go. We may offer what we think is good advice.

Do you really want to give up your good job to take a chance on… We don’t mean to dash their dreams, but what if… We know they have to risk failure to risk success but what if they fail? We aren’t trying to hold them back just give them a reality check.

In The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard tells us there are three types of people who instill fear in us, the worriers, the weaklings, and the wicked. Could we ever be accused of being one of these to other people? Whose dreams have we unknowingly trampled on? Who have we made second-guess becoming whatever it is they see themselves becoming?

Today will never come again. Be a blessing. Be a friend. Encourage someone. Take time to care. Let your words heal and not wound. Unknown

What if we became a cheerleader to something unlikely to work out? Their plan is not thought out enough, they don’t have the kind of talent likely to succeed? What is the correct response? Perhaps if we encourage them to define what they want to do and how they will achieve their goal we will help them clarify their path. Perhaps we can encourage them to prioritize their actions. Maybe we can help them work out alternatives in case there are obstacles they cannot see or the path to success is longer than they anticipate. We can celebrate their achievements.

If we can encourage people’s dreams, ambitions, goals, and desires we can be a help and not a hindrance as they strive to do better, be better, and achieve more. When we help other people reach success are we being helped on our path toward success too?

No one becomes a success at anything without helping people in some way. The more people we help the more successful we become. If we can help others determine what their gift to the world is, what the purpose of their life is we can be a great help to them. We may have no clue what their gift is, we can still encourage them on their journey in some small way. We can all be mentors and coaches to someone.

We may find sometimes we are the worrier, we are afraid the path they’ve chosen is too hard and fraught with difficulty. We may be the weakling thinking we couldn’t do it, so they probably can’t too. We may even fall into the category of the wicked.  We are only telling it like it is. Sometimes it is being told they can’t do something that propels people forward. Proving someone wrong has more power than listening to the cheerleaders.

We won’t be perfect working toward our own dreams or encouraging others towards theirs. Accepting our imperfections as people, parents, siblings, sons, daughters, friends, acquaintances and co-workers are part of our journey. We can only do the best we can and know when we look back we may wish we’d said something, or done something different.

Are we encouragers, or discouragers most of the time?

A word of encouragement during failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success. Unknown

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The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power by [Burchard, Brendon]
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The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power Kindle Edition

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Growing as people, growing in love. Isn’t growth the point, and isn’t progress over perfection what’s important?

Isn't growth the point, and isn't progress over perfection what's important? Growing as people, growing in love.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There is only one happiness in life, to love and to be loved. George Sand

Is the most important person in our lives our self? Then isn’t the most important thing we can do is make ourselves as good, strong, resilient, kind, and compassionate, and loving as possible? If we can only give what we have then if we are not kind to ourselves, we are unlikely to be kind to others. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we are unlikely to forgive others. If we do not know how to love ourselves, we will not have an abundance of love to shower on other people. If it is true, hurt people hurt people, then it is probably also true that loving people, love people.

A definition of love comes from Quora. It means you love without romantic or sexual harmonics. It means that when someone you love falls in love with someone else, you are happy for them both. It means you can give someone advice without hurting them. It means you will do less damage to those around you and the world in general than otherwise.

Connection with others is they say the key to happiness. What does being a loving person look like? When we try and make other people more comfortable is that loving? Can we laugh at a joke no one else finds funny? Can we get in the puddle with people as they go through the challenges and hurts of life? Can we be there for them and maybe help lead them out of the puddle?

We often don’t know what the best approach is. Can we make the decision to be more loving? If we decide to act in more loving ways, will we look for ways to be more loving, to give a kind word, encouragement, and include people when we can? Is there always one small thing we can do?

We need to be careful that we are not using love as control, manipulation, trying to make decisions for others they need to make for themselves. Sometimes we need to be tough in our love if we tend to be enablers. Helping people to stand on their own feet make their own decisions, and live with their own consequences is sometimes how we show our love.

No matter how many fights you may get into, if you truly love someone it should never matter in the end. Unknown

We won’t always feel loving toward others, not even our own families. We will have to forgive ourselves, and them. We may have to apologize or accept an apology or not take offense when none was meant or overlook it when it was. We will have to forgive ourselves and others, often. We need to forgive our frailties, faults, weaknesses, anger, hate, and feelings of being misused, misunderstood, and not loved enough. We will have to forgive ourselves for not being as loving, kind, understanding, or compassionate as we long to be. We are not perfect, we will never be perfect, and when we can forgive ourselves our own imperfections we can perhaps extend that to others.

Can we look at every opportunity in life as a chance to be better, do better, and think better? One of the things we need to give up is the fantasy of love. We may think in our fantasy that when people love each other they never fight, say anything hurtful, look at them the wrong way, get a hard tone in their voice, become impatient, or upset.

We are the only person we have control over. We are the only person we can change. We can ask ourselves if our behavior demonstrates love. If we realize we are not acting as loving as we thought we were, or know we can be, we can find ways to add a kind word, an act of service, a touch, a hug, a small gift, or spend more time with them. When people feel appreciated, respected, understood, valued, and important, won’t they also feel more loved?

Can we be more loving without thought of reward for our self, without keeping score? Can we aim for progress instead of perfection? No matter how much we try, we will not always feel loving, compassionate, kind, or forgiving. We may have to own feelings we do not like, we may need to process them over time. We may have to grow, and isn’t that the point?

Love never dies a natural death. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. Anais Nin

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The Heart Of The Five Love Languages Hardcover – Mar 15 2008

by Gary Chapman (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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The 5 Love Languages Paperback – Jan 1 2015

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Is better communication the balm needed to fix relationships? Can we listen and ask questions and hear what someone else is saying instead of just reacting?

Can we listen and ask questions and hear what someone else is saying instead of just reacting? Is better communication the balm needed to fix relationships?

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill

Do we let anger rule our lives? How many bad relationships are created out of anger that no one knows how to fix? Once we’ve said words we can’t take them back. We can apologize and heal, but many of us don’t know how to do that. What if we don’t believe we are totally in the wrong? We don’t believe we said what someone thinks we said. How could they take that innocuous comment as something so hurtful?

We thought we healed a breach, we were on the mend and now they aren’t talking to us again, and we don’t know why, “what happened?” If we have siblings there are probably some contentious issues, sensitivities, and angst. If we are alive we have sensitivities. Something gets said and we wonder, “What did they mean by that?” We feel our actions, our words, our attitude, and our whole being can be misunderstood and viewed in a negative light.

We can read something posted on Face book and wonder, “What do they mean by that? Is there some hidden message?

Can we try and look at others with empathy and compassion, and try and understand what they are going through? How things might look from their point of view? But, how could they think that of us? We ask ourselves, why don’t we get the benefit of the doubt? What if how they deal with things is by thinking “What is the worst that can happen? But, by doing that they almost treat us as if we’ve actually done the worst, or at least that is how we feel.

We may take offense where none was meant, and they may interpret offense where none was meant. How do we fix this? Hurt feelings on both sides. How do we apologize for things we don’t think we did or didn’t mean in the way they were interpreted?

Last night talking to friends our host recounted going to a wedding where what the groom said to the father of the bride in his speech left everyone with their mouths hanging open. The groom and father of the bride appeared to have the kind of relationship where the groom could call him a name most of us cringe at and they would laugh about it, instead of taking offense. How did that marriage work out we wondered, our host didn’t know.

I’ve heard of this, friends saying all the mean hurtful things to their friends so when someone else says these words to them, the sting has been taken out. Does it work? It might be better than being so sensitive to every tone of voice, inflection, and off the cuff remark we hear.

If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. Robert Baden-Powell

We sometimes don’t see things as they really are. We think we are one thing, but we find out we are something else. It happened to me; I thought I was “the good” mother. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized I fell into “The controlling mother camp.” When I quit telling my kids what they should think, how they should feel, what they should do, and instead started asking questions and listening to them things got better. By changing my attitude, other attitudes seemed to change. I began to have the impact I’d hoped for not by telling, but by listening. Not by trying to control other people but by giving them space to feel their own feelings, think their own thoughts, and choose their own path. By asking questions they thought about what they wanted instead of being told what to want.

People need to be heard, for some people, this is the greatest gift we can give them. To listen to them, to really hear, and understand what they have to say. They say we should first seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Sometimes we have to get over “how things are said,” and start listening to what is underneath the words.

Can we get over our own sensitivities to understand someone else’s? Can we step into their shoes and see things from their point of view? Is there another side of the story we aren’t seeing? Is our need to be right, worth the price we are paying?

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Karl A. Menninger     

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, listening, and love.

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How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections by [Harling, Becky]
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Listening so others talk, talk so others will listen.

Photo of Cherry Tree by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. Larry King

We can only talk if someone else is willing to listen. We can only listen if someone else is willing to talk. How can we become a great listener, encouraging others to talk, and the great conversationalist enthralling our listener?

Is there anything we hate more than hearing our idea put forward by someone else and getting praise for such a great idea? What was it that made our idea fall on deaf ears when we said it, and everyone’s ears prick right up when it came out of someone else’s mouth?

It might have to do with the way it was presented or the credibility of the person presenting it. The way they spoke with authority, expecting to be heard, expecting to be respected, expected to be the one with a good idea.

We hardly notice our speech patterns. We need to watch the clichés and phrases we use. Also keep in mind how many umms, ahs, likes, basically, frankly, honestly, extremely or really slip into our sentences. Do we speak like we are apologizing for taking up space?

We need to know who we are speaking to. Our style of speech needs to be adjusted depending on who we are addressing. We don’t speak the same way to our kids as our spouse, our friends, and the boss.

What is the main point we want to get across? Many of us are not as quick as we’d like to be thinking on the fly. Taking the time to think about what we want to get across can help us say what we mean to say.

We need to get to the point. Often we try to over explain and we lose our audience. Sometimes we make the mistake of using big words when simple ones will do. We need to get to the point and be as clear and concise as possible.

If we want to get serious about this we can record our self and listen to our speech patterns. This is an exercise that makes most of us cringe. It is useful especially if we are going to do any public speaking, we want to see how we come across in an interview, or see how we use eye contact.

When we are the listener we need to fully listen, giving them our full attention. We can acknowledge we’ve heard with “oh…mmm… I see.” Instead of asking questions or giving advice we should just listen. It can be hard to finish our story when we are questioned, blamed, or advised. Encouraging sounds and a caring demeanor are invitations for people including children to explore their thoughts and feelings.

Encouragement to others is something everyone can give. Somebody needs what you have to give. It may not be your money; it may be your time. It may be your listening ear. It may be your arms to encourage. It may be your smile to uplift. Who knows? Joel Osteen

It can be helpful especially when listening to children to give a name to what they are feeling. That sounds frustrating, scary, unfair, etc.

What we are hearing people and children say may be things they can’t have right now. It might be small things or big things. The harder we explain why we can’t have fairness and justice in the world the more they protest. Sometimes we just need to understand how much they want something, and being understood makes not having it easier to bear.

When we want to impart information to people so they will change, blaming and accusations are not helpful. What is also not helpful is name calling, threats, commands, lecturing and moralizing, warnings, comparisons, sarcasm, or dire prophecies.

It will help if we describe what we see as the problem, without making it a criticism about them. “The snow being tracked into the house is not good for the hardwood floor,” is more effective than, “you are ruining the floor.”

When we express our feelings without attacking character and we state what our expectations are we are giving them the information they can work with. We can show them how to make amends, and how to make a choice between two or more acceptable choices. Making a choice is not the same as being told what to do.

We teach others how to treat us. Others teach us how to treat them. When we treat each other with respect we get respect. If we criticize others we will get criticism and judgment back. If we are mean and petty and can’t overlook little things, they will be nitpicky too.

The patterns of communication we grew up with travel with us through life. We can change them if they aren’t working for us, but first, we have to recognize what they are. What works well with one person may not work well with everyone. We are all different. If we are willing to adjust to different personalities in our families, workplace and the greater community we can talk so others will listen and listen so others will talk. We can seek to understand and seek to be understood.

Are there people in our life we can seek to understand better? Can we listen to their point of view without telling them why that point of view is wrong?

When people express opinions that differ from yours, take it as a chance to grow. Seek to understand over being understood. Be curious, not defensive. The only way to disarm another human being is by listening. Glennon Doyle Melton

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by [Alda, Alan]
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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.

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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